October 7, 2010 § 2 Comments
There are a number of ways to travel in Peru. Going from Lima to Nazca possibility the most popular is to drive. You have the option to either hire a private driver or tour your way down and back or to take the bus. I asked a driver for price to compare it was $400 there and back with stops along the way. I had already decided after reading through a few messages boards I took the advice of other travelers and decided to travel via bus aboard Cruz del Sur.
Traffic caused me to miss the bus I had planned to take, but not a problem it gave me time for lunch and to relax. I also opted for the 1st class sleeper seats. At $88 soles which if my math is correct works out just over $30 for the 8 hour drive in a large comfortable window seat with dinner seemed like a great idea to me.
Cruz del Sur takes security seriously, before we left the guards came on board and videotaped everyone – a record of exactly who is on board. There are also video cameras in the cabin to monitor what is going on. Seat belts for each seat and two professional drivers to take turn on the long drive. The sleeper seats all had pillows and blankets that were wrapped in plastic the slight scent of soap when it was opened indicated they had been freshly laundered.
All in all the bus was clean and pleasant to be on board. The announcement as we left said there was a snack stand upstairs and a bathroom for “urination only” I’m sure this helped the bus keep up the fresh clean air.
I’ve traveled quite a bit on busses around South America and I’m use to movies and games on board busses – we saw Grown Ups and Old Dogs and a movie on the tourist highlights for the ICA district – highlights along our route…all in Spanish.
The ride was comfortable the drivers went a maximum of 90km as the law allowed giving us time for both movies, dinner and a bingo game for a free trip for two — all of which seemed pretty cool. However the feature in which I was most impressed was the fact the busses have both a computer on board for guests, but internet access. Wow – how great is that! I did some emails and had a Skype chat all while watching the scenery pass outside my window. The hostess on board spoke both English and Spanish and would come in the cabin to check on us periodically.
The bus was a great option and Cruz del Sur has a first class operation.
A final note on my Cuz del Sur journey to Nazca , I arrived about midnight and needed to take a taxi to my hotel. The local agent refused to unlock the door to let me find a taxi on my own – he felt it was unsafe. Instead he called the hotel and let them know I had arrived and told them his name and that he worked for Cruz del Sur and he was personally accompanying me to make sure I arrived safely. He did not want to take any chances of having one of his passengers robbed or left for dead somewhere out in the Nazca desert on his watch — thank you Cruz del Sur for a great trip!
October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment
Arriving to Lima you can’t help but notice it is a modern airport, with lots of glass, shiny metal and welcome signs. Upon arrival you first pass through immigrations which are a long line of incoming passengers that breaks down to several lines – my recommendation go all the way to the far end. There are actually two agents there one for the regular line and a second for VIP dignitaries. If there are no dignitaries, both agents help the last line making that line move the fastest.
By the time you pass through immigration – your luggage should be waiting for you. I do have to mention maybe because I am naïve, but Lima is the first airport I’ve seen with duty free shops for arriving passengers. Welcome to Peru would you like to buy some liquor, cigarettes, perfumes or electronics? They had a couple of them and they were copies of the type of store you see departing any country.
At baggage claim there are some people selling rental cell phones – this is a con. I asked about buying a pre-paid chip for my cell phone, they told me they had them. But then wanted me to pay $10 for the chip or the phone and charge me $.49 a minute for calls within Peru and almost $2 a call for calls outside Peru. There rates were outrageous when a local call on a prepaid plan is 20 soles less than $.10 a minute. Thanks – but NO THANKS!
Most of the flights into Lima arrive late at night and a great hotel option is the Ramada at the Airport. This hotel is right at the airport! When you exit the international terminal exit through the glass doors cross the street and you enter the hotel all in less than 2 minutes. The hotel may not be the fanciest in the world, but the staff all speak English are very helpful. The rates are just under $200 a night and included a buffet breakfast, a welcome cocktail and internet service. There was also a business center open 24 hours and a spa waiting to offer last minute services to passengers on late night flights. It may be a little pricy but it does save the $20 cab ride into downtown Lima for another hotel and made it that much quicker that I was able to get to bed and enjoy some sleep.
I liked the hotel for its convenience – my only suggestion for improvement would be bottled water in the bathroom to brush your teeth. When I asked the maid for a bottle of water to brush my teeth he told me to use the tap water. I asked if I could drink the tap water – he told me no I would get sick…piece of advice on a traveler’s health issue if the tap water makes you sick to drink it will make you sick to brush your teeth. I decided not to risk it and to use my welcome drink coupon for a bottle of water.